Category Archives: Creative Stuff

A Touch of Whimsy in the Garden

(originally posted on on 4/1/13)

flower1I have spring fever, y’all!  Spring was never my favorite season – until I became a gardener.  Now I have to stop myself from going out there every hour to see what has changed and if anything has noticeably grown, because at this time of year the plants and flowers are just exploding.  It’s all I can do to concentrate on anything other than plants and planting, to the extent that Adam actually had to ask me to other night if I could please talk about something other than gardening…and it effectively shut me up.  Every time I had a thought or something to share, it was inevitably about how big the corn is getting, how many snow peas we might harvest for dinner tomorrow, or wondering how tall the hollyhocks are going to get and whether they will need staking.  Now he knows what to say to get some peace and quiet.

Now that the garden is in full spring swing, I thought it would be fun to add a little whimsy here and there.  I’ve always got ideas percolating about how I can turn some junk I found at a garage sale or on the side of the road into some little treasure for my front yard garden.  With all this gardening enthusiasm I’ve had of late, I’ve put that energy to good use by finally getting to many of these little projects.  I’m pretty pleased with how they’ve all turned out so far.

Chandelier Bird Feeder

I saw others like this on Pinterest, so when I happened across a dirt-encrusted chandelier at a garage sale for $20 (it still had the antique store price tag on it, where it was listed for $395!) I knew it needed to be the new upscale restaurant in the yard for my bird friends.  A little cleaning and spray paint was in order, and I made the feed cups from some Trader Joes chicken breast cans which I attached with a little epoxy.  I think it adds just the touch of whimsy I was hoping for, and the birds definitely seem to like it (especially the house finches you see here).


 Gnome Home

Another Pinterest creation, I’ve been thinking about adding a little “gnome home” to the tree in the front yard since last summer.  I finally dug up the soil around the tree and purchased the miniature door on Amazon.  It’s about the most adorable thing out there.  I planted some alyssum and some dead nettle, and decided to keep the oxalis weeds growing there, too, since they are awfully pretty.


Oh the Places We’ve Been

Another project I’ve been daydreaming about since last year was adding a signpost to the front yard with signs pointing to some of the places we’ve visited over the years.  The most challenging part of the project was choosing which places to include.  I learned a neat trick from another blog about how to add the lettering, and Adam borrowed a post-hole digger from the neighbor to install it for me.  Of course, no signpost is complete without a birdhouse on top (which I snatched for $1 from a garage sale in Indiana while I was home visiting the folks).  Now when I look out the kitchen window I’m reminded of some of our adventures, and the birds have yet another place to perch.


I hope this inspires you to create some whimsy of your own!  If you need me, I’ll be in the garden.

It’s Vag-tastic!

(originally posted on on 4/28/12)

For the second year, I participated in the V-Day Downtown LA 2012 production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.  What an amazing event!  V-Day is a global movement inspired by the play that works to help women and girls who are victims of violence.  Over 6000 productions a year are produced around the world with all proceeds benefiting V-Day and the local charity of your choice.  Our production helped A Window Between Worlds, a wonderful non-profit in Venice, CA, that uses art to help women and children in abusive relationships.

With this being an evening designed to raise money and awareness, we decided to hop on the cupcake trend and sell vagina cupcakes (or “pussycakes”)….


The cupcakes were a huge hit, and elicited all kinds of interesting responses.  Some people couldn’t wait to get their mouths on one.  Others were a bit more hesitant.  Some were mildly grossed out.  Nonetheless, it certainly shines a spotlight on the vagina, which is of course the whole point of the show, so I’d say overall they were a success!

I baked both vanilla and chocolate cupcakes.  The vaginas are made out of homemade fondant .  And did you know that if you Google “how to make vagina cupcakes” you are led directly to this amazing video from Chaos Bakery?  Oh, the wonders of the internet.  Thank you, Chef Bev!



In Vag We Trust!

Best. Halloween. Ever.

(originally posted on on 11/6/11)

To say that I was excited about Halloween this year would be an understatement.

You see, for the past dozen or so years I’ve lived in an apartment.  Which means no front yard to decorate, and no trick or treaters. I have been utterly deprived of partaking in the type of Halloween shenanigans that I love.  No jack o’ lanterns.  No bowls of Snickers.  No gushing over the adorable cuteness of two-year-olds dressed up as ladybugs brought to my door by encouraging parents.  No scaring the crap out of teenagers dressed as, well, teenagers, who are too old to trick or treat but who come to my door nonetheless.  DEPRIVED.

But this year was different.  This year I live in a HOUSE.  With a FRONT YARD.   I promised Adam that I wouldn’t decorate until October.  In my mind, that meant October 1st.  He thought that was excessive. I thought it was being appopriately conservative.  Who wants to see ghosts and goblins in September?  Well…I do, but I tried very hard to contain my enthusiasm.  Adam thought I was crazy.

Until about a week before Halloween.  Adam started questioning me about how I was planning to make the front yard scary.  I thought it was scary already – four gravestones, two ghosts, a severed hand, a giant black widow spider crawling up the side of the house, the front porch encased in spiderwebs.   Isn’t that scary?  I didn’t even know if we were going to get any trick or treaters.  The only neighbor I talked to about it is never home that night.  I was hesitant to spend too many hours on what would amount to four kids.  I’d already spent an entire Saturday tarting up the yard.

“But we need a fresh grave,” Adam said.  “I could be digging a grave in the yard, and when kids come up to the house I could tell them it’s for them.”

What?  Since when did the Halloween Scrooge become Dr. Death himself?  I latched onto this idea real quick, and told him that under no circumstances was he allowed to back out now that he made the offer.  And since our landlord is in the process of tearing up our front yard, digging a big hole wasn’t as reckless as it sounds.

“And I could make us up like zombies!” I suggested.  “And I could make some dead bodies so the kids won’t know which of us is real and which is fake!  And I’ll get a fog machine!  And a strobe light! And play scary music!”  I was gushing.  This was too exciting.

The big night came.  It may as well have been prom, what with my ridiculous gangbusters attitude and my decision to devote the entire day to getting ready.  We rigged up all the special lighting.  I got the music going.  We decked ourselves in full zombie attire complete with dripping, gooey (and chocolaty-tasting!) blood.  We lit torches.  Adam got out the shovel and started digging.

And we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  5:30 – no early birds.  Okay, no problem, I thought, it’s a school night.  6pm.  No kids.  6:30pm.  No kids.  Adam and I started to realize this may be a colossal let down and waste of time.  But hey – we were entertaining each other, walking around the yard in our zombie walk as people driving by gave us weird and slightly concerned looks.

And then, finally, we got a couple kids.    And a couple more.  Then 20 showed up at once and we started to get a pretty steady stream.  And then I realized that over half the houses on our street had their lights off.  There was a serious case of non-participation going on in our neighborhood.  These poor kids sometimes walked by 3, 4, even 5 houses before they came to one that was giving out candy.  How lame is that?

And then I started to notice that every kid that I gave candy to – every single one – said thank you.  Even the high school kids.  And we got alot of high school kids.  We live in what some consider a rough neighborhood, and the high school down the street – Reseda High School – has had shootings and gang activity.  Our mailbox was tagged when we moved in.  Many of the kids had on Reseda High School shirts, and if I saw them walking down my street on a normal night they’d be on my radar.  But all of them were so polite and seemed genuinely appreciative – not only for the candy, but for the house, for really doing it up, for the effort.  For caring.  For caring enough to try to scare the crap out of them.  And we did.  There were 5 kids who wouldn’t even come into the yard.  Quite a few I made scream (much to their parents’ delight).  And I can’t tell you how many times we could hear people talking to each other on their way out of the yard, saying “that was the best house I ever went to!”.  I started to realize that by making such a big deal out of doing up our yard, that we were in our own small way, participating in the community.  We were saying that, hey, we’re part of this neighborhood too, let’s have some fun!  Instead of turning off the lights and pretending we weren’t home.  I think our neighborhood could use some more of that kind of attitude.  And I’m glad we did it.  I think I would have been glad even if we only got 4 kids.  4 kids are worth it, too.

At the end of the night, after giving candy and screams to about 75 kids, Adam says to me “That was really fun. I’m glad we did it.  Now lets go to the market across the street before they close and walk in as zombies and ask if the butcher if he has brains“.  He even looked up how to say “brains” in Spanish.

So we dragged ourselves to the market, and asked for “cereeeeeeebrooooos“.  But we ended up getting chocolate ice cream instead.  And a sprinkle cookie.

Best.  Halloween.  Ever.

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I’ve Got the Fever!

(originally posted on on 10/17/11)

Having an eleven year old in your life can really get the creative juices flowing.  It seems there is always some event or project coming up that requires hot glue, duct tape, spray paint, and – if you’re lucky – dry ice.  I got my dry ice fix when hosting Willow’s (my boyfriend’s daughter’s) eleventh birthday party this year.

I’ve never hosted a kid’s birthday party before, and I wanted to pull out all the stops.  We opted for a pool party at our house, so naturally a luau theme was quickly adopted.  Last year, my duty for the bday beach party was the cake, and Adam and I, along with his friend Barbara, made the most amazing cupcakes, each of which was decorated like a mini-beach with graham cracker sand, creamy blue water and candy flip flops.  I had to one up myself this year.  So I decided on a volcano cake.

After much internet research, I came up with a plan.  I made two bundt cakes -one chocolate and one vanilla tinted with orange coloring.  Then I stacked them and shaped them into something vaguely resembling a volcano.


I then frosted it with chocolate frosting, leaving the shaved off parts of the cake crumbled up at the base to look like rocks.  I used some orange glaze drizzled on top for lava, and fitted the hole inside the cakes with a small metal glass filled with dry ice so it looked like it was smoking.  Topped it all off with some candles and tiki heads, and voila!  Volcano cake perfect for any respectable luau.  The eleven year olds loved it.  I even overheard one of her friends remark “What a cool cake, Willow is such a lucky butt!”  Fine praise indeed.


Riding on the heels of this success, I was asked by Willow if I could make her Halloween costume this year.  She has decided to go retro and dress up as Ms. Pac Man.  How could I possibly say no?  I was definitely up for the challenge.

Again, after much internet research, I decided my best bet was to use a couple of leftover moving boxes, a roll of duct tape, some staples, a little garden shade cloth and a whole lotta spray paint.  I started by cutting out my pac man shape:


I really didn’t have any clever ideas about how to engineer this, and knowing that it only needed to survive a couple of wearings, the whole thing is pretty much held together with duct tape.  A LOT of duct tape.    I cut some armholes and covered the mouth area with shade cloth so she could see out without anyone seeing in.  Then we got some tights, a shirt and a skirt at the thrift store (I love any excuse to go to the thrift store) and again – voila! – we had our Ms. Pac Man.


Willow and I are so happy with how it turned out I’m scoping out all the local Halloween parties so we can pimp this costume out and win some contests!  Might as well capitalize on my creation, no?